Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Motivated co-workers!

One of the Bush-taxi's

“Brikama, brikama, brikama” Last couple of days I hopped on one  of the overcrowded bush-taxi’s to Gambia College in Brikama. There I’m sharing an office with Metsje Krol, lecturer at Windesheim and Gambia College.  Students walk in and out of the office to inquire about their grades, to ask for a stapler and to have a chat with the 'stranger'.

My desk at the college

So I met many people, and especially three very motivated people I’m going to be working with:

Head of the College
Mme Isatou Ndow is head of the College. As she was attending a Christian school as a Muslim child, she sees possibilities for interreligious education at lower and middle basic schools in the Gambia. “Learn from the other and you will learn more about yourself.”
She also finds it necessary. She sees a lot of good examples of people with different religious and cultural backgrounds  living together in Gambian society, celebrating together. But also a growth of fundamentalist  Christian and Muslim youngster. Dialogue in education, can play a part to keep values as sharing and tolerance high in the Gambia.

A child-centered approach should be part of the Interreligious Education. That’s going to be a challenge. Some of the lecturers are grasping it, others still find it difficult to apply. I’m welcome to talk to the lectures and observe their classes to see how they translate this specific approach.

Head of the Christian department
He didn’t had much time, the first day, but as soon as he saw the word dialogue he started to talk very enthusiastic. Father Edu Gomez, head of the Christian department of the College, wrote his thesis about dialogue. And as father of the Catholic church in Brikama he has a very good contact with his neighbor, the imam of the big mosque in Brikama. “Interreligious dialogue will bring acceptance, harmony and peace. So we can have a good life in the Gambia. I’m very happy to assist you.” And so he did: introducing me to a couple of schools, providing me with the syllabi for Christian Religious Education of the College and of the schools and with more time to talk.

Head of the Islamic department
“Gambia College is the base for all the teachers in the Gambia. So this is the place to start interreligious education”, according to Mr. Ibrahim Touray, head of the Islamic department of the College. “It will be good for Gambian society and also efficient for the schools.” Right now every school is obligated by government to give Religious Education. That can be Islamic Religious Education and / or Christian Religious Education. Sometimes both are needed. There's not always budged for this. Won’t it be more efficient and less expensive for schools to have one teacher to teach Interreligious Education?
Resistance might be there from some schools, but motivation as well. Motivation from schools and the Islamic Council. As Mr. Touray had experienced before as co-author in a study about cross-cultural education together with English researchers.

So three motivated co-workers from the College, providing me with contacts of schools and counsils, with curriculum syllabi, and more. The only thing we still need to find is a date to sit down with the four of us to get the 'dialogue' starting. Feels just like home: always hard to find the right date for all of us :-) 


  1. Keep the fire going!Mooi om te lezen en het enthousiame te proeven.

  2. Good to hear such positive news from you, Jessica. It seems you're not the only enthusiastic in this project. As we thought, of course.
    Are you able to work out the plans you made only a few weeks ago? Or is everything so different than you thought it would be, so that you have to change plans and planning?
    I hope you still enjoy the kids, the families, the teachers and the co-workers you meet, and the research you planned to do in this first weeks.
    I miss you, here at A-C, where we're starting the FLORE-filmproject with 9 or 10 classes, together with Jasper Vreken. You'll see the results this summer.
    Bye, bye, Marc

    1. Hi Marc!
      I am able to work out all my plans. After meeting a lot of people i am now observing at schools and the College. Also i started my interviews and i am analysing the syllabi they use for Christian or Islamic Religious Education. I will give you and the rest of the advise group an update soon!

      And that's so great 9 to 10 schools for Flore!! Can't wait to see the films when they're ready!

  3. Idealism is the beginning of a better world. Keep the expectations high! I hope to stay in touch to learn how the work is progressing